Jade Kearney is a Mental Health Expert, Founder & CEO of She Matters. As a mother with a professional background in Education and Talent Development, Jade’s mental wellness journey began soon after giving birth to her daughter. Jade experienced postpartum depression and anxiety and had difficulty finding community and culturally competent resources to turn to. The birth of her daughter made her realize the neglect black mothers face when it comes to their mental well-being.
Jade’s drive to take charge of her own mental health inadvertently led to the creation of the She Matters platform – an online/offline safe space for Black women to relate, connect, and inform on all things mental health. Her Agenda INSIDERS had the opportunity to speak with Jade to deep dive into the impact of mental health as it relates to maternal health and how her community is helping to solve this problem.
Read a few excerpts from the conversation.
Jade on recognizing an issue with herself postpartum:
I noticed something was wrong at about 2 months postpartum. I was afraid to be around knives, I was afraid to sleep, I was afraid to do anything! My anxiety was really running my life. I spoke to family and they were really passive. So many aunties and cousins said you’ll be fine don’t worry, you’re just a new mom and that’s normal. I knew what I was experiencing wasn’t normal.
On starting She Matters:
My first event was two years ago in Newark, NJ where I am from. It was a brunch and it was sold out. I was so surprised how many women shared the same fears and experiences that I had as a new mom. The cultural stigmas and medical neglect were common themes and I decided to make She Matters a community that bridges those gaps in particular.
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Jade on medical neglect and how that affects a mother’s mental health:
Maternal health is difficult to navigate as a Black woman. From day one many of us are worried about the type of care we will receive. Will it be adequate? Will it be equal? Will I die from medical neglect while pregnant? Pregnancy is already an uncertain time; these questions add more stress. You’re worried about your baby’s doctor’s visits and your postpartum care. These things are always in our subconscious because the numbers are there our mortality rate is 4x that of a White woman and trying to understand why is both exhausting and gut-wrenching. It’s also just a testament to systemic racism in this country which is already anxiety-inducing.
On how to be supportive to new mothers:
You can always ask a woman how she is feeling and what does she need? People often ask how the baby is feeling or how is it to be a new mom but tapping in and asking how is she feeling can help a mother communicate what is hard to experience. Also, look for signs of anxiety and depression in your friends and family. Is your sis more withdrawn? Is she crying all the time? Is she showering?
Jade on her biggest lesson since starting She Matters:
I have learned that women open doors for healing when we open up and converse about our experiences and that is life-changing in itself. I am always humbled by the gratitude from Black women for holding conversations about postpartum mental illness.